7 Destinations to Explore in the Marble Works

Person with backpack walking toward 3-story old stone building, with a sign to help explore in the Marble Works
Turn on to Printer's Alley to explore in the Marble Works. Photo by Karen Brightly
4 Story white building against a blue sky
Photo by Karen Brightly

At Swift House Inn, we love sharing our town. When you have a few minutes, or a few hours, we hightly recommend a good explore in the Marble Works of Middlebury. Start your adventure with a brief history.

A sign with picture and text in front of a low marble building
Maybe this is how time-walking might feel? Photo by Karen Brightly

How We Got to Now

The first place to explore in the Marble Works is “way back when.” The Marble Works hold an enduring place in the heart of our village, which is striking, as the original quarry businesses didn’t actually last very long. Begun by Eben Judd in 1800, Middlebury Marble cut and crafted marble design elements, such as lintels, columns, and mantels, bound for New England, points West, and even, to Europe.

In his limited time, Judd got a lot done. He dammed and diverted Otter Creek, harvested the white marble cliff of the falls, and milled and polished his wares. He found rare black marble and a variety of other colors. Only 37 years later, lower tariffs made Italian marble more affordable and accessible. Judd was out of business.

In 1898, a neighboring town’s marble company burned to the ground. Middlebury leaders lured them and the marble business back to Otter Creek. The “newbies” built the machine housing sheds where they now stand. Each generation finds new uses for these beautiful, fascinating buildings.

Historical detail including bills of sale, shipping records, and diaries and letters, from Judd and other founders and innovators who built Middlebury, can be found at The Henry Sheldon Museum at 1 Park Street.

Today, we are pleased to share 7 of our favorite destinations to explore Middlebury’s most unique Marble Works.

1. Go Thrifting at Round Robin

If marble production fell quickly into our past, maybe Round Robin “upscale resale” clothing store for men and women began ahead of its time. They certainly came early to environmental consciousness and conservation. Finding extra value in the offcast clothes of the good people of Middlebury, the Porter Medical Center Auxiliary opened Round Robin in 1975. They make gently used, excellent clothing affordable and available and use the proceeds to support the Porter Medical Center, our regional hospital.

If you have a few minutes or a few hours to explore in the Marble Works, try wandering through time at Round Robin. You might find something to re-love.

2. Check in for Class at Otter Creek Yoga

Sometimes we really need to step away, empty our minds, calm our bodies, and give ourselves the gift of an hour of gentle movement and deep breathing. That’s why Otter Creek Yoga makes the list of our favorite places to explore in the Marble Works. They offer flow and vinyasa classes, to classic Iyengar practices for all levels.

Otter Creek Yoga serves your well-being and the well-being of the world. If you are looking for a place to nurture, stretch, or center yourself, body and/or soul, check the class list at www.ottercreekyoga.com and make the call: (802) 388-1961. Walk-ins are very welcome. Payment by cash or check in studio, or through the website.

interior view of tea house from second story
A world of tea opens to all your senses at Stone Leaf Teahouse. Photo by Karen Brightly

3. Sip and Shop at Stone Leaf Teahouse

Stone Leaf Teahouse holds a world of tea in one timeless shop. Owners John Wetzel and Samantha Eisenberg travel from harvest to harvest to learn. Then, they share their expertise and passion with us back at the Marble Works. Find quiet Japanese-style low tables and pillow seating upstairs and café seating on the main level.

Stone Leaf also imports and exports tea. They carry over 300 teas including exotics that can cost $1000 per pound. And even common teas, like mint and chamomile that grow in so many of our Vermont gardens, are exquisitely brewed at Stone Leaf. Take a real tea break to sip and savor, grab a matcha pick-me-up to-go, or browse their selection for the perfect teaware gift or tool. StoneLeaf Teahouse transports you around the world and back to the Marble Works in a calm and quiet hour.

Exterior stone building with windows and door. Black awning over door
Noonie’s Entrance facing the Otter Creek Falls. Photo by Karen Brightly

4. Lunch at Noonie’s

We can’t get enough of this sandwich shop. As often as we try we haven’t made it through the menu. Yet. We feature Noonie’s regularly because it is truly one of our favorite destinations to explore in the Marble Works of Middlebury. We’re certain it either is, or will become, one of your favorites, too. See you there!

three stacks of books all about Winston Churchill
A treasure trove of books waiting to be plundered as you explore in the Marble Works. Photo by Karen Brightly

5. Dive in to Otter Creek Used Books

In 2006, Barbara Harding restored this self-proclaimed “old-fashioned used book store” as a wonderland for the bibliophiles of Middlebury. She’s created the kind of place one could lose oneself for days. No wonder it’s one of our favorite places to explore in the Marble Works. Just make sure any fellow travelers know where to look, should you be gone for a while. Peruse and meander the stacks or settle into the children’s reading room, where one easily could imagine meeting Pooh, Alice, Anne, or Max. See if the Churchill section catches your eye, as it did ours. Or, you might “need” another gardening book. Or, you might find an antique book clamoring to go home with you. Getting lost can be as fun as all you’ll find.

6. Stock up on cute at Junebug’s

If you are in the market for children’s clothes or maternity wear, you’ve found one of Vermont’s treasures. Because children grow fast, the clothes at Junebug have hardly been worn. Some have not been worn at all. Specialty shoes, like rain boots, riding boots, and dance shoes, still have plenty of wear and shine left in them.

The curators of this collection of high-quality, gently used children’s gear surely know what they’re doing. They source hard-to-find maternity clothes and specialty garments. And as they shop, Moms, babies, and moms-to-be, find community connections and friends, as well as great clothes at Junebug. Even without any children to shop for, when we visited we found row after row of cuteness that brightened the whole rainy day!

exterior marble building with large colorful signs
American Flatbread, Middlebury Hearth. Photo by Karen Brightly

7. Dinner at American Flatbread

This Mad River Valley institution has a second home here in Middlebury. The Middlebury Hearth, as they call American Flatbread at the Marble Works, is currently open Wednesday through Saturday, 4:30 – 9. And, IOHO, we would love to visit even more. Let’s say you’re coming off the slopes starving or looking for casual dining that’s kid-friendly. Check out the wood-fired flatbread pizzas and organic salad .

The American Flatbread daily menu tells which ingredients are local, and/or organic that day, including their five-ingredient, organic, whole wheat, flat crust. And their open hearth adds a lovely glow to even the most casual outing. American Flatbread is sure to make your list of favorite destinations to explore in the Marble Works.

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